The benefits of exercise may sound too good to be true, but decades of solid science confirm that exercise improves health and can extend your life. Adding as little as half an hour of moderately intense physical activity to your day can help you avoid a host of serious ailments, including but not limited to: heart disease, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and several types of cancer, in particular breast and colon cancers.
Research Proven Benefits of Exercise
Research shows that regular exercise also can improve:
- Energy. Exercising can increase your energy.
- Body fat. Exercising that includes resistance training can increase lean muscle. More lean muscle means a higher resting metabolic rate which can decrease stored body fat.
- Muscular strength. Exercising that includes resistance training can increase muscular strength.
- Muscle endurance. Exercising can increase muscular endurance.
- Sarcopenia (loss of muscle as we age). Exercising that includes resistance training can slow the loss of muscle associated with the natural aging process (sarcopenia).
- Low back pain. Exercising can strengthen the muscles in the lower back, increase flexibility of the lower back and also increase core strength. lack of core strength is one of the primary contributors to low back pain.
- Balance, coordination and posture. Exercising that includes resistance training can improves balance, coordination and posture through improvements in muscle strength, muscle tone, muscle flexibility and muscle density.
- Functional capacity and ability (falling, climbing stairs). Several studies show that exercising can improve core strength, balance and muscle stability, reducing the risk of falls and fractures.
- Resting metabolic rate. Weight training can reverse the natural decline in your resting metabolism which begins around age 30.
- Insulin Resistance. Several studies show that exercise can improve insulin resistance. Improving insulin resistance reduces your risk for metabolic syndrome and can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Glucose metabolism. Several studies show that exercise can improve glucose metabolism which can be beneficial in the managing of diabetes, and the preventing of type 2 diabetes.
- Heart rate. Exercise can lower your resting heart rate, a sign of a more efficient heart.
- Blood pressure. Exercise decreases your resting blood pressure and reduce high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Food metabolism. Exercise decreases your gastrointestinal transit time. This can reduce the risk for developing colon cancer and other diseases associated with toxin absorption through the GI tract.
- Blood cholesterol levels. Exercise has shown to have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels (lowers LDL and raises HDL).
- Flexibility. Weight training when combined with stretching can increase overall flexibility and reduce the risk of muscle pulls and injuries.
- Osteoporosis (bone density). Weight training strengthens your bones reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures.
- Osteoarthritis. Exercise can improve mobility and decrease symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.
- Immune system. Exercising improves the functioning of your immune system and can reduce your risk for colds, flu and other diseases and conditions.
- Psychological well-being/Mood. Exercising has shown to increase chemical hormones in the brain that can improve mood and increase your sense of well being. Weight training has shown to reduce stress and improve symptoms of depression.
- Sleeping. Exercise reduces stress and increases hormones that are conducive to improvements in sleep.
The Best Exercise Programs
A well-rounded exercise program has four components:
1. aerobic activity,
2. strength training,
3. flexibility, and
4. balance exercises.
Each benefits your body in a different way.
Aerobic exercise helps burn calories, raise your basal metabolic rate. Research also confirms the important disease-fighting benefits cardiovascular activity.
Strength training helps build muscle and strengthens bones and joints. Bones lose calcium and weaken with age, but strength training can help slow or sometimes even reverse this trend. Not only can strength training make you look and feel better, but it can also result in better performance of everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and carrying bundles. Stronger muscles also mean better mobility and balance, and thus a lower risk of falling and injuring yourself. In addition, more lean body mass aids in weight control because each pound of muscle burns more calories than its equivalent in fat.
Muscles tend to shorten and weaken with age. Shorter, stiffer muscle fibers make you vulnerable to injuries, back pain, and stress. But regularly performing exercises that isolate and stretch the elastic fibers surrounding your muscles and tendons can counteract this process. Stretching ican also mproves your posture and balance.
Regularly performing balance exercises is one of the best ways to protect against falls that lead to temporary or permanent disability. Many strength-training exercises also serve as balance excecises as well, since muscles and joints are being strengthened as well.
Bottom Line on Exercise and Health
So, if you thought exercising was all about show, now you know it is also about health and reducing your risk to many diseases and conditions. So get out there and start exercising today.